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Stem Cell and Platelet Therapies for Pets

Can the body heal itself? Many people who use alternative therapies believe it is possible. Veterinarians are using stem cells and platelets to heal dogs, cats, and horses. What makes these treatments even more attractive than traditional medicine is that they are less invasive and cost less.

Dr. Michel Selmer, DVM
Stem cell therapy has nothing to do with embryonic stem cells.  These stem cells are harvested from the fat of your pet and are sent to a laboratory that concentrates and purifies the cells. The cells are sent back to the veterinarian and are injected into the affected areas. It is a procedure that takes about 48 hours. Stem cells are used to treat joint pain caused by arthritis, dysplasia, or damage to tendons and ligaments.

“Using cells from a dog’s own body eliminates the risk of rejection,” says Dr. Michel Selmer, DVM, who is certified to use Stem Cell Therapy for the treatment of dogs and runs Advanced Animal Care Center in Huntington Station, NY. “I personally am amazed by the stem cell procedure and I hope that the stiff regulations governing human medicine will either relax somewhat or embrace this treatment. Imagine if we can help our dysplastic dogs run without pain and our arthritic friends could have pain-free mobility.”

“I know that I’d rather have an injection of my own cells to treat a degenerative joint, rather than an invasive surgery to replace it,” adds Dr. Selmer. “I hope that we’ll see these medical advancements continue to become more mainstream for our pets and spill over into traditional human medicine soon.”

Stem cell therapy is quite new, and only a small number of veterinarians are certified to practice it. “The cost is much lower than traditional surgery, and it’s safer,” says Dr. Selmer. I’m reluctant to do any procedures that are unnecessary or add to the bill. Stem cell therapy and platelet cell enhancement therapy cut down costs of pet care.”

For a hip replacement such as dysplasia, traditional surgery costs in the area of $12,000. Stem cell therapy is $5,000, and platelet therapy costs $1,000.

Platelet Enhancement Therapy
According to Dr. Selmer, platelets, which are found in the blood, contain a variety of growth factors that promote healing. Joint diseases like tendon/ligament injuries and osteoarthritis often cause pain that limits mobility. Dr. Selmer believes that treatment with platelets appears to help. Just like with stem cells, platelets are injected directly into the injured area. Both stem cell and platelet therapies treat the same ailments.

However, platelet enhancement therapy is so new that not many veterinarians are using it. “It’s an option for people who can’t afford stem cell therapy,” says Dr. Selmer.

Dr. Selmer has performed two stem cell therapy treatments, and both have been successful. “Not many people know that it’s available, he says. “The benefits are great; it’s minimally invasive; costs less than traditional surgery, and if it fails, you are where you started.”

A handful of veterinarians in the country are certified to practice stem cell and platelet therapies. “There is more research behind stem cell therapy, and not a lot written about platelet therapy,” says Dr. Selmer. “Both are cutting edge technologies. The smartest course is to talk to your veterinarian. Go over all of your options together. There is help out there for your animals, you just have to keep searching.”

Reader Bonus
If you have a question for Dr. Selmer, you can contact him at The Caring Vet.

11 comments to Stem Cell and Platelet Therapies for Pets

  • Wow, this is really interesting stuff.

    If, after doing some research on my own and talking to my vet, this seemed like a viable choice I would certainly try this over a more invasive treatment.

  • Isn’t it amazing what treatment options have progressed to? Less invasive is better. The lower cost is better. Do you know if pet insurance would cover these therapies … one would think “yes” if they cost less. Also, if these therapies are only being practiced by a small number of vets, I imagine access to care could be an issue for some people. Based on what you wrote, I would certainly consider these options for our dogs. Why not … am I missing something? Better to go less invasive first, I would think. If that didn’t work, you could then try surgery.

  • Rod, I thought the same thing–that if it didn’t work, no harm, no foul. And I have not found any pet insurance that covers this–yet, because it is so new. Pet owners should ask their vets and their insurers.

  • Cheryl Ross

    I like the idea and the fact that you don’t need to take and do anything to a fetus is even better!

  • This is really cool! Unreal that they can derive stem cell from the animal’s fat cells. I’d definitely try this before more invasive surgeries, especially since I can see no negatives to the treatment (other than than being out the money) if it’s not successful.

  • very cool post! Therapies for humans are usually pioneered in animal treatments & I didn’t know that stems cells can be harvested from fat cells!

  • helen

    Anything which is closer to nature is acceptable to me. I don’t see why we shouldn’t go this way. And why shouldn’t we look into for humans as well. I always believed that we have the cure inside us and the power to heal ourselves.

  • I was interested to read that platelets are now being used and at a lesser cost. I had written about stem cell use in dogs last year, and find the advances in this line of treatment really exciting! Thanks for this post.

  • […] Stem Cell and Platelet Therapies for Pets […]

  • […] To my readers: I interviewed Dr. Selmer earlier about stem cell and platelet therapies for dogs with hip dysplasia. You can read this article here. […]

  • We have used stem cell therapy for our Jasmine about two years ago. We are very happy with the results! And our vet is quite excited about it after seeing what it did for Jasmine.

    Interestingly though, he runs a small clinic and we paid only $2500 for the treatment. So the overall cost might well depend on where you have it done small versus big clinic/town. I know it was two years ago, but according to VetStem there hasn’t been any major increase in price.

    Same with Jasmine’s extracapsular repair. A friend in Ottawa got a quote about twice as large as what we paid. And while sometimes it might, the quality of care does not have to suffer with lower price or small practice. Our vet who did both the stem cell therapy and both Jasmine’s knees is an amazing professional and did a fantastic job.